Friday, February 22, 2013

Evolution of the Mystery Genre

The Postman Always Rings Twice

James M. Cain

Narrated in the first person by Frank Chambers, a young drifter who stops at a rural California diner for a meal, and ends up working there. The diner is operated by a young, beautiful woman, Cora, and her much older husband.

There is an immediate attraction between Frank and Cora, and they begin a passionate affair. Cora is tired of her situation, married to a man she does not love. Frank and Cora scheme to kill her husband and start a new life together without Cora losing the diner.

Frank and Cora fake a car accident. They ply Nick with wine, strike him on the head, and crash the car and they both are injured. The prosecutor suspects what has occurred, but doesn't have enough evidence to prove it. He charges only Cora with her husbands murder, coercing Frank to sign a complaint against her. Cora, furious and indignant, insists upon offering a full confession detailing both their roles. Her lawyer tricks her into dictating that confession to a member of his own staff. Cora, believing her confession made, returns to prison. Though Cora would be sure to learn of the trickery, a few valuable hours are gained. The lawyer uses the time to manipulate those financially interested in the trial to have their private detective recant his testimony, which was the final remaining weapon in the prosecution's arsenal. The state is forced to grant Cora a plea agreement, under which she is given a suspended sentence and no jail time.

Frank and Cora patch things up and plan a happy-family future. Then Cora is killed in a car accident while Frank is driving. The book ends with Frank, from death row, summarizing the events that followed, explaining that he was wrongly convicted of having murdered Cora. The text, he hopes, will be published after his execution.

• Our Government (1930)
• The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934)
• Serenade (1937
• Mildred Pierce (1941)
• Love's Lovely Counterfeit (1942)
• Career in C Major and Other Stories (1943)
• Double Indemnity (1943) (first published in Liberty Magazine, 1936)
• The Embezzler (1944) (first published as Money and the Woman, Liberty Magazine, 1938)
• Past All Dishonor (1946)
• The Butterfly (1947)
• The Moth (1948)
• Sinful Woman (1948)
• Jealous Woman (1950)
• The Root of His Evil (1951) (also published as Shameless)
• Galatea (1953)
• Mignon (1962)
• The Magician's Wife (1965)
• Rainbow's End (1975)
• The Institute (1976)
• The Baby in the Icebox (1981); short stories
• Cloud Nine (1984)
• The Enchanted Isle (1985)
• The Cocktail Waitress (edited by Charles Ardai, 2012)[7]


(July 1, 1892 – October 27, 1977)
James Mallahan Cain was an American author and journalist. Although Cain himself vehemently opposed labeling, he is usually associated with the hardboiled school of American crime fiction and seen as one of the creators of the roman noir. Several of his crime novels inspired highly successful movies. The Postman Always Rings Twice was list #14 on the Top 100 Mysteries of All Time.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Evolution of the Mystery Genre

The Moonstone


                                         Wilkie Collins

Rachel Verinder, a young Englishwoman, inherits a large Indian diamond on her eighteenth birthday. It is a legacy from her uncle, a corrupt British army officer who served in India. The diamond is of great religious significance as well as being extremely valuable, and three Hindu priests have dedicated their lives to recovering it. The story incorporates elements of the legendary origins of the Hope Diamond (or perhaps the Orloff Diamond). Rachel's eighteenth birthday is celebrated with a large party, whose guests include her cousin Franklin Blake. She wears the Moonstone on her dress that evening for all to see, including some Indian jugglers who have called at the house. Later that night, the diamond is stolen from Rachel's bedroom, and a period of turmoil, unhappiness, misunderstandings and ill-luck ensues. Told by a series of narratives from some of the main characters, the complex plot traces the subsequent efforts to explain the theft, identify the thief, trace the stone and recover it. This novel and The Woman in White are both free on Kindle as of this date.

Novels by Wilkie Collins

• Iolani, or Tahiti as it was. A Romance (written 1844; published 1999)
• Memoirs of the Life of William Collins, Esq., R.A. (1848)
• Antonina (1850)
• Rambles Beyond Railways, or, Notes in Cornwall taken a-foot (with illustrations by Henry C. Brandling; 1851)
• Basil (1852)
• "Mr Wray's Cash Box" (1852)
• Hide and Seek (1854)
• "The Ostler" (1855)
• After the Dark (1856)
• The Dead Secret (1857)
• A Rogue's Life (1857/1879)
• The Frozen Deep (1857), a play co-written with Charles Dickens
• "A Terribly Strange Bed" (1858)
• "A House to Let" (1858), a short story co-written with Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell and Adelaide Anne Procter
• "The Haunted House" a short story co-written with Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Adelaide Anne Proctor, George Sala and Hesba Stretton
• The Queen of Hearts (1859)
• The Woman in White (1860)
• No Name (1862)
• My Miscellanies (1863)
• Armadale (1866)
• No Thoroughfare (1867), a story and play co-written with Charles Dickens
• The Moonstone (1868)
• Man and Wife (1870)
• Poor Miss Finch (1872), dedicated to Frances Minto Elliot
• Miss or Mrs? (1873)
• The New Magdalen (1873)
• The Frozen Deep and Other Stories (1874)
o "The Frozen Deep"
o "Dream Woman"
o "John Jago's Ghost; or The Dead Alive"
• The Law and the Lady (1875)
• The Two Destinies (1876)
• The Haunted Hotel (1878)
• The Fallen Leaves (1879)
• My Lady's Money (1879)
• Jezebel's Daughter (1880)
• "Who Killed Zebedee?" (1881)
• The Black Robe (1881)
• Heart and Science (1883)
• I Say No (1884)
• The Ghost's Touch and Other Stories (1885)
• The Evil Genius (1886)
• The Guilty River (1886)
• Little Novels (1887)
• The Legacy of Cain (1889)

Wilkie Collins ( January, 8 1824 – September, 23 1889)

William Wilkie Collins was a prolific English novelist, playwright, and author of short stories. Very popular during the Victorian era, Mr. Collins wrote 30 novels, more than 60 short stories, 14 plays, and more than 100 nonfiction essays. His best-known works are The Woman in White, The Moonstone, Armadale, and No Name. The Moonstone was placed listed #7 on the Mystery Writers of America’s Top 100 Mystery Novels of all Time.

Collins was a lifelong friend of Charles Dickens. A number of Collins's works were first published in Dickens's journals All the Year Round and Household Words. They collaborated on several dramatic and fictional works, and some of Collins's plays were performed by Dickens's acting company.

Wilkie Collins was one of the best known, best loved, and, for a time, best paid of Victorian fiction writers. But after his death, his reputation declined. Today, Collins is being given more critical and popular attention than he has for fifty years. Most of his books are in print - and all are

Friday, February 8, 2013

Eveloution of the Mystery Genre

                                   Daphne du Maurier

While working as the companion to a rich American woman, the narrator becomes acquainted with a wealthy Englishman, a 40-something widower. After a short courtship, she agrees to marry him and accompanies him to his mansion, the beautiful estate, Manderley.

The housekeeper was profoundly devoted to the first wife, Rebecca, and she continually attempts to undermine the new wife psychologically, subtly suggesting that she will never attain the charm of her predecessor. The new wife soon becomes convinced that her husband is still deeply in love with the seemingly perfect Rebecca.

The climax occurs at Manderley's annual costume ball. The housekeeper manipulates the protagonist into wearing a replica of the dress shown in a portrait of one of the former inhabitants of the estate—the same costume worn by Rebecca to much acclaim shortly before her death. When her husband see the dress, he gets very angry at her and orders her to change.

Shortly after the ball, the housekeeper reveals her contempt for the heroine by encouraging her to commit suicide by jumping out the window. However the woman is thwarted at the last moment by the disturbance caused by a nearby shipwreck. A diver investigating a ship wreck discovers Rebecca's remains in the boat.

Her husband confesses to the heroine how his marriage to Rebecca was nothing but a sham. Rebecca was a cruel and selfish woman who manipulated everyone around her. She taunted her husband with sordid tales of her numerous love affairs and suggested that she was pregnant with another man's child, which she would raise under the pretense that it was his and he would be powerless to stop her. She intentionally provoked him into fatally shooting her. The heroine is relieved to hear he had never loved Rebecca, but really loves her.

Rebecca's boat is raised and they discover it was deliberately sunk. An inquest brings a verdict of suicide, however, Rebecca's first cousin (and, implicitly her lover) attempts to blackmail Maxim, claiming to have proof that Rebecca could not have intended suicide.

Rebecca’s doctor declares she had been suffering from cancer and would have died within a few months, and that she wasn’t pregant. The suscide verdict is upheld. The husband returns to Manderley to find it in flames. The conclusion reveals the couple now live in foreign exile. The events recounted in the book are in essence a memoir of the heroine’s life at Manderley.

Fiction Novels

• The Loving Spirit (1931)
• I'll Never Be Young Again (1932)
• The Progress of Julius (1933) (later re-published as Julius)
• Jamaica Inn (1936)
• Rebecca (1938)
• Frenchman's Creek (1941)
• Hungry Hill (1943)
• The King's General (1946)
• The Parasites (1949)
• My Cousin Rachel (1951)
• Mary Anne (1954)
• The Scapegoat (1957)
• Castle Dor (1961) (with Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch)
• The Birds and Other Stories (1963)
• The Glass-Blowers (1963)
• The House on the Strand (1969)
• Rule Britannia (1972)

Dame Daphne du Maurier
(13 May 1907 – 19 April 1989)

Daphne du Maurier was born in London, the second of three daughters of the promient actor-manager Sir Gerald du Maurier
and actress Muriel Beaumont

The novel Rebecca, which has been adapted for stage and screen several times, is generally regarded as her masterpiece. In the U.S.she won the National Book Award for favourite novel of 1938, voted by members of the American Booksellers Association, and it ranks #9 on the Top 100 Best Mystery Novels of all Times by the Mystery Writers of America.

Many of her works have been adapted into films, including the novels Rebecca (which won the Best Picture Oscar in 1941) and Jamaica Inn and the short stories The Birds and Don't Look Now. The first three were directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the latter by Nicolas Roeg.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Evolution of the Mystery Genre

The Daughter of Time


                                     Josphine Tey

Alan Grant, Scotland Yard Inspector is feeling bored while confined to bed in hospital with a broken leg. Marta Hallard, an actress friend of his, suggests that he should amuse himself by researching an historical mystery. She brings him some pictures of historical characters aware of Grant's interest in human faces. He becomes intrigued by a portrait of King Richard III. He prides himself on being able to read a person's character from his appearance, and King Richard seems to him a gentle and kind and wise man. Why is everyone so sure that he was a cruel murderer?

With the help of other friends and acquaintances, Grant investigates Richard's life and the case of the Princes in the Tower, testing out his theories on the doctors and nurses who attend to him. Grant spends weeks pondering historical information and documents with the help of Brent Carradine, a likeable young American researcher for the British Museum. Using his detective's logic, he comes to the conclusion that the claim of Richard being a murderer is a fabrication of

     Josephine Tey was a pseudonym used by Elizabeth Mackintosh a Scottish author best known for her mystery novels. She also wrote as Gordon Daviot. In five of the mystery novels she wrote under the name of Tey, the hero is Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant. The most famous of these is The Daughter of Time 1951 one of her last novels. In 1990, The Daughter of Time was selected by the British-based Crime Writers' Association as the greatest mystery novel of all time; The Franchise Affair was eleventh on the same list of 100 books. Also listed as #4 on the top 100 best mystery novels of all time by the Mystery Writers of America.

Inspector Alan Grant novels
• The Man in the Queue (or Killer in the Crowd) (1929) [as Gordon Daviot]
• A Shilling for Candles (1936) [as Josephine Tey]
• To Love and Be Wise (1950)
• The Daughter of Time (1951) The Singing Sands (1952)

These novels are set in the same time and location as the Inspector Grant novels.
• Miss Pym Disposes (1946) [as Josephine Tey][5]

• The Franchise Affair (1948) [Inspector Grant appears briefly at the beginning, mentioned a few times] (filmed in 1950 starring Michael Denison and Dulcie Gray)
• Brat Farrar (or Come and Kill Me) (1949)
• Kif: An Unvarnished History (1929) [as Gordon Daviot]
• The Expensive Halo (1931)
• The Privateer (1952)

Josephine Tey (25 July 1896–13 February 1952)